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First-Time Car Accident With Major Injuries: What to Do Next

Couple involved in car crash with male driver suffering with whiplash injury.

“I just experienced my first car accident and I’m hurt. What should I do?”

If you were involved in a severe car accident recently, there are some important next steps you need to take and pitfalls to avoid in the near future.

Major crashes can differ from minor crashes in significant ways.

On top of dealing with auto insurance claims adjusters and repairing damage to your vehicle (if it’s not determined to be totaled), you will likely be facing painful injuries, extensive medical treatment, and missed time from work or school.

For most, a major accident can feel overwhelming. However, you aren’t alone in your experience and you have options to protect yourself.

For immediate legal help, contact an Atlanta car accident lawyer to discuss your situation and understand your rights. Consultations are free and confidential.

Go to the Emergency Department

In a severe car wreck, some injured victims have no choice but to ride in an ambulance to the hospital. They may be suffering from broken bones, internal bleeding, puncture wounds, or other life-threatening issues and need immediate medical attention.

Even if you’re conscious and able to move after a crash, request a ride via friend or rideshare to take you to the emergency room. Do not try to sleep off your pain or ignore serious injury symptoms after a crash.

If you are worried about costs or don’t have health insurance, a personal injury attorney may be able to use your car insurance policy or negotiate with a healthcare provider to treat your injuries on a lien basis.

Report the Accident to Insurance (But…)

Whether or not you were able to exchange information at the scene with the other parties involved in the crash, you are obligated to tell your auto insurance company what happened (regardless of whether you plan to file a claim for injuries or property damage). You will also need to contact the insurance companies of the other involved drivers.

Report the crash and how many people in the vehicle suffered injuries. It is best not to divulge too many details in the initial call, as you do not know the total extent of the damages and medical expenses.

Stick to simple facts.

Contacting your insurance carrier sooner rather than later puts them on alert that the wreck was serious. Any significant delay in informing them may weaken your ability to recover financial compensation for car repairs and medical treatment.

Don’t Sign Anything Until After Speaking With an Attorney

The insurance company may try to offer you an immediate settlement amount. For a minor accident with no injuries, the offer may likely match the cost of repairs.

But in a major car wreck, such a settlement wouldn’t take into account the massive amounts of current and future medical needs, lost wages from missed work, and emotional pain and suffering.

 Do not accept any money offers until you understand the full extent of your injuries and treatment needs.

Accepting a settlement means you can’t file a personal injury claim later on. You forfeit all right to pursue compensation and there is nothing anyone can do to change that.

Don’t Give a Recorded Statement Until After Speaking With an Attorney

Another thing to avoid is providing a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster.

You are likely obligated by a clause in your policy to provide a recorded statement to your own insurance company. However, you are not obligated to give a statement to another person’s insurance company.

We strongly advise having an attorney with you when giving a recorded statement.

Recorded statements are used by adjusters to evaluate what happened in an accident and assess how much coverage applies. Everything recorded is accepted as fact and can be used against you if you aren’t careful in your answers.

If an insurance adjuster insists you give a recorded statement at the time you report the wreck, politely make an excuse to end the call and tell them you’ll call back later.

Don’t tell them you are thinking about speaking with an attorney or have hired representation. Let the lawyer advise you on what to do next.

Injured woman sitting on couch, stressed about medical bills from her car accident.

Don’t Call an Attorney or Doctor Who Contacted You First

If a lawyer, doctor, or chiropractor calls you out of the blue or sends you information in the mail directly referring to your recent accident, avoid them. Attorneys are not allowed to “chase ambulances” — it’s unethical and illegal.

Instead, do your research. Contact a lawyer you feel most comfortable representing you.

This protects your case from being dropped by the insurance company if they find out the attorney was illicitly given your accident information by a third party.

Why Consulting the Right Attorney Matters

Most people don’t know a lawyer, so talking to one can feel intimidating. After a serious accident, the stress of making the right decision can be amplified a hundred-fold.

It’s important to know that most attorneys aren’t like what’s portrayed in popular media. Many care about their clients’ well-being and are determined to protect their rights.

Good personal injury attorneys understand the nuances of the legal system. They know how frustrating it is when an insurer delays a case or tries to avoid responsibility for a claim.

The time and energy it takes to pursue a personal injury claim while recovering from a traumatic accident is usually too much to bear alone. Hiring a legal team to collect witness statements, medical bills, provider information, and assess future medical needs provides stability and reassurance.

First-Time Car Accident Law Firm

Most people who contact Gary Martin Hays & Associates just experienced their first car accident. They’re shaken, in pain, and unsure what to do next.

We sit with them and clearly lay out, step by step, the process for filing a personal injury claim. We explain the insurance company’s obligations and what it takes to get the maximum settlement amount they deserve.

Every case is unique. No one can know what your personal injury claim is worth at first glance. Gary Martin Hays & Associates' lawyers work with each client one-on-one to create a legal strategy that will maximize their medical treatment and settlement offer.

Hear our client stories for yourself:

Don’t know what to do after a car accident?

If you suffered injuries due to another driver’s fault, talk to our experienced Atlanta personal injury team. We’ve helped thousands of first-car accident victims recover compensation for their traumatic injuries.

We can’t undo what happened, but we can fight to get you the best medical and financial care possible.

Call (770) 934-8000 or chat online with our team anytime, day or night, to get started.

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